Police chief: Fewer officers contributes to lower arrest figures

Glendale officers arrested fewer people last year, but police attribute that more to fewer boots being on the ground than less crime being committed.

A significant number of police position vacancies combined with fewer calls for service and decreased crime rates meant fewer people getting arrested in 2011, Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa said.

Officers arrested 8,514 people in 2011, down from 9,962 in 2010 and 10,843 in 2009, according to an annual Glendale Police Department report.

“One of our biggest challenges is staffing,” De Pompa said. “Not only did we lose 18 positions over the recession…but then we suffered from a significant number of retirements.”

Twenty sworn officers retired last year, resulting in a decrease in workload data since fewer officers were available.

Calls for services were also down, from 133,177 in 2010 to 129,802 last year.

De Pompa said the drop was due to fewer officers in the field to observe and initiate an action, as well as residents making fewer calls, he said.

The Police Department hired new officers last year, but more retirements are expected this year.

Despite the staffing reductions, Glendale police reported maintaining their emergency call response times to less than five minutes.

“That’s an important indicator, and despite our short staffing, we have still been able to maintain very efficient response times, which is a very good thing,” De Pompa said.

Property and violent crimes also decreased last year, which police attributed to the use of real-time crime analysis statistics, area-specific policing and community outreach.

Nearby cities, including Burbank and Los Angeles, also saw a reduction in violent and property crimes.

Crime in both categories dropped by 5.8% last year from 2010 in Los Angeles, according LAPD’s annual crime statistics. Violent and property crimes decreased to 6% last year in Burbank.

Still, while crime and arrests were down, De Pompa warned that residents could see rates edge back up due to the court-ordered release of California prison inmates to relieve overcrowding.

Law enforcement officials have argued that inmates are likely to reoffend, citing high rates of recidivism.

“It won’t happen overnight,” De Pompa said, “but it will happen and we are seeing that in the anecdotal cases weekly now.”

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